What we're doing in 2024 to stabilize your website

Posted on November 29, 2023

Caroline Blaker

What we're doing in 2024 to stabilize your website Image

Website stability: show-stopper or summer breeze?

Having an unstable website is one of those issues that can interrupt even the savviest marketing campaigns, the most beautiful website designs, and certainly the most lucrative of web stores. If your website can’t handle the impact of new customers, genuine public interest, or occasional targeted attacks (this is the internet, after all;) you’ll learn this at the worst possible time, guaranteed. Website stability doesn’t get tested in the design phase - it doesn’t get put to the test in the early days of a website either. Chances are, you’ve forgotten your website can be vulnerable to even the best traffic until it arrives, all at once. Aquarian clients don’t have this to worry about, because the developers in our office design and develop websites for stability, security, and growth.

Here’s a short list of the approaches we are taking today:

We’re insisting on Cloudflare

Protective DNS services like Cloudflare take advantage of the space between a request for a page being made and the server answering that request. Cloudflare takes advantage of this critical step to:

  • Serve content and images from a Content Delivery Network (CDN), speeding up your website’s response time.
  • Block known spammers, known attack types, and other traffic following known nefarious patterns from even reaching your server.
  • Provide reporting on where traffic comes from and allow administrators to make micro-adjustments where they recognize improper or potentially nefarious traffic.

Most DNS services pass all traffic to a web server. Cloudflare provides common-sense filtering, a speed boost, a cache, a CDN, and the power to us to stop attacks before they reach the server. Best of all, many of these concerns are covered by their free tier.

We’re optimizing for speed

Faster websites get better SEO results, but that’s not all. Solutions related to improving website speed work by taking the load off the server - which has stability benefits.

  • Instead of asking the server to “think and respond” to every web request, website caching and speed improvements allow for servers to “just respond” to requests it has already thought about.
  • If a server doesn’t have to think for some requests, it has more resources to respond to novel requests or critical functions, like sales.
  • If a server doesn’t have to think for some requests, it can handle more traffic with the same resources, faster.
  • A faster server better handles unexpected traffic, good or not-so-great.

We’re relying on fewer services

We’re bundling fonts and assets into low-profile, lightweight local files. We’re installing only the most consequential 3rd party integrations. Basically, we’re keeping our assets to ourselves and asking less of other servers on page load. This limits the issues that could arise from those hosts which could affect your website stability without your participation (or ours.) Worse yet, you’re waiting for that third party to fix the issue as it affects you, on their time.

We still rely on lots of 3rd party services and libraries (as is the way for Modern Web Development, love it or hate it;) but we compile what we need in code and send only what’s needed to production - after it’s been sanitized and minified, using the Petroglyph UI. Our first-party UI development kit allows for beautiful, modern website design and developer workflow without the need to send any development third-party libraries to production. It also provides a page speed boost on production, and thusly an SEO boost.

Female figure gazes up at trees

Problems with website stability can limit the growth you're looking for.

We’re setting email authentication in DNS

DKIM and SPF DNS entries are the Internet’s answer to “why can anyone email as me?” and “why has email spoofing decreased recently?” We are keeping tabs on these DNS records as a possible source of Domain Authority ranking in Google as well (although we haven’t confirmed this with our SEO friends.)

DKIM and SPF records, without getting too nerdy, essentially carry an administrator’s allowance for spam or potential spam coming from their domain. It works by a receiving email client comparing these DNS rules to the originating sender’s headers on the email and seeing if there’s a match. Implementing DKIM and SPF is tricky and can result in some non-delivery of email - we are still working on getting email from Google Calendar to deliver calendar invites, after setting up our newsletter to deliver through Postmark, a service that made setting up DKIM / SPF 99% easy. Except for the calendar part. UPDATE: we got this working.

When it comes to website stability, the fewer ways third party traffic can manipulate your domain, the better. With highly-deliverable email that is guaranteed not-spam, you leave less room for your web server to be manipulated through outgoing or incoming email.

The best hosting

Of course, none of this effort means anything without a reliable web host. We covered our favorite web hosts on our blog separately. We like web hosts that can handle utmost website security while providing personalized service.

The same ol’ thing

As ExpressionEngine developers and Craft CMS developers, we’ve built Aquarian Web Studio on some of the most effective practices in website stabilization available to developers. We’re still moving Joomla! and WordPress websites to ExpressionEngine and Craft CMS. We continue to see good results among these PHP / MySQL content management systems that still include security as a design element. In 2024, we will continue delivering maximum SEO, performance, and control to our clients without sacrificing stability or security.

Handling Website Stability Concerns

We routinely see a handful of the same concerns around website stability. Does WordPress keep getting hacked? Do consequential WordPress add-ons not work together? Do critical software updates crash your website or break your web design? Does a (founded) fear of the website going down prevent you from growth-oriented marketing efforts? Is it difficult to update your website because doing the wrong thing breaks the page or the whole site?

If you need your website to grow, but your software doesn’t allow it, you have a problem.

We can help

There are website set-ups that will allow your organization to grow the influence, sales, and impact that you envision, without sacrificing control, stability, SEO, performance, or security. If we’re not already chatting about how to help you, please ping us at your earliest convenience:

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